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Man gets suspended sentence for theft from insurance firm

July 13, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man was given a suspended sentence Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to stealing more than $30,000 from Wright-Gardner Insurance Inc. while working as an insurance salesman.

Chad Michael Brashears, 27, of 18323 Roy Croft Drive, Hagerstown, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft scheme of more than $500 and received a five-year suspended sentence from Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr.

Brashears also was ordered to spend three years on probation, with the first year supervised. He also must perform 250 hours of community service by the end of this year, Long said.

In exchange for the plea, the state will dismiss 26 counts of theft, Maryland Assistant Attorney General Bernard Taylor said during the sentencing hearing.

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Between January 2007 and Aug. 8, 2008, Brashears was paid $30,151 in commissions and inflated salary that he did not earn, Taylor said in court Tuesday. Wright-Gardner was paid by its insurer for its losses under an employee theft coverage policy, Taylor said.

The insurance carrier later was reimbursed by Brashears' family, according to the statement of facts in the case.

Brashears, who was hired by Wright-Gardner in 2005, entered into the company's computer system policies that customers had not ordered, falsely reinstated canceled policies, entered false policy information and wrote duplicate policies under different client names, Taylor said.

In May 2008, two customers called Wright-Gardner complaining policies had been issued to them when they either had not been ordered or had been canceled, Taylor said.

"I have taken our name and run it through the mud," Brashears told Long. "I now have to spend my life making up for the past two years."

"This is going to be a mark that follows Chad Brashears for the rest of his life," Brashears' attorney, D. Bruce Poole, said. Brashears "succumbed to the pressure" to meet standards at work and, once the deception had begun, "the situation got worse and worse and worse," Poole said.

Brashears had been the varsity boys basketball coach at St. Maria Goretti High school, but was relieved of his duties in February, after the charges against him became public.

"Basketball and coaching kids was a real passion for him," Poole said.

The effects of Brashears' actions have been "enormously painful to Chad and his family," Poole said.

Christian Wright, president of Wright-Gardner Insurance, spoke in court Tuesday.

"We have lost a lot of business as a result of what Chad has done," Wright said. "We've had clients turned in to collection agencies and lose their business because of what Chad has done. They've lost their livelihood."

Brashears never again should be placed in a position of trust where he can take advantage of innocent people, Wright said.

"This was not a mistake, nor was it a couple of minor infractions," Wright said. "Chad conned us all and snubbed his nose at the law by thinking only of himself."

After the hearing, Wright said one customer for whom Brashears created a phony policy ended up losing his business and was "living out of his truck."

"There is such a thing as loyalty, and you've struck out on that today," Long told Brashears.

Long told Brashears that he is still young and that "people get second chances in sports. People get second chances in life."

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